Sleep is extremely necessary for the normal functioning of the body. A sleep disorder or insomnia is a serious health issue which always needs immediate attention. Most insomniacs resort to over the counter sleeping pills. These medicines may be effective but only for a short duration and is mostly accompanied with side effects. Insomnia is best treated the non medicine way through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for treating
This universally approved method for treating insomnia starts with correcting the misconceptions that a patient has regarding the nature of sleep. It is structured programme conducted under the guidance of a therapist or specialist. The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective form of treatment with long lasting results. CBT directly addresses the root cause of the problem and helps in reducing worry, anxiety and fear about ‘not sleeping’. Its combination of theoretical formulation and clinical techniques brings long lasting relief to the patient, breaks the pattern of insomnia and restores sound sleep.
According to this therapy, every individual needs differ when it comes to the amount of sleep required. For example one patient may need about five hours of sleep to reenergize whereas another may require eight hours of sleep. The important point to note is that the individual should wake up in the morning feeling fresh and energized. The person should not doze off or feel drowsy during the day for lack of sleep. So this therapy first identifies the amount of sleep time required by the patient.
It also examines the amount of time spent in the bed while awake; the amount of time taken to fall asleep and the time actually spent sleeping. Sleep restriction, an important part of this therapy, schedules the amount of time a patient spends in bed and maintains precise sleep and wake times. According to this technique a patient should go to bed only if he is feeling drowsy. If sleep does not come with ten to fifteen minutes of going to bed then he should get out of bed, go to quite place and try to relax till drowsiness occurs. In short, it limits the time a patient spend in bed such that it makes the patient sleepier giving a sound sleep. It also discourages the patient to ‘try to sleep’. It involves avoiding any effort from the patient’s part to try to fall asleep. They should actually stop worrying and relax which makes it easier to fall asleep.
Stimulus Control Therapy
The Stimulus control therapy is another part of CBT which suggest that the bed should only be used for sleeping or sex. Apart from this no other activity should be done like watching television, working on the computer, etc. It also suggests that in case if sleep does not come within fifteen minutes of retiring to bed then the person should leave the room and go to another relaxing and quite place. It eliminates worries and negative thoughts; calms the person, removes any fears, promoting positive thoughts which psychologically help in sleeping better. A patient, for example, had a fear that a single restless night with very minimum sleep would make him sick the next day. These baseless fears are converted to positive thoughts by sleep educating the patient regarding the cycle of sleep, its behavior and actual factors which affects sleep.
Sleep hygiene is another approach that is effectively used to promote sleep. It involves changing some lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking immediately before sleeping time. Regular exercise is encouraged. Mid day napping is avoided and a sleep schedule is maintained. It also trains the patient in some relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, etc.
Clinical techniques are also involved under this therapy like muscle tension and heart rate are recorded through a device during sleep. This is done by a sleep specialist. A sleep diary is also maintained wherein the time of going to bed, the wake up time, time spent in bed without any sleep, total sleeping time are all recorded over a period of time. The specialist corrects this sleep pattern, notes the changes or improvement to give the best long-term insomnia treatment. Any or all methods can be used to treat insomniacs. It is the most useful treatment to improve the quality and duration of sleep.